The historic center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the same time a kind of open-air museum. Strict measures have been taken to protect the many monuments and works of art. But the center is small enough to be perfect to walk around while you visit. (Due to Covid measures, the information below may change.)
Whether you arrive in Florence by plane to what is also called the Firenze Peretola Aeroporto or by train to the very heart of the city, Santa Maria Novella station or other stations further afield (but perhaps closer to your lodgings), Campo Marte or Stazione Rifredi, being able to work out public transport will help ease any worries or help you skirt a taxi shortage or get to places like the hillside of Fiesole without spending a small fortune. So, let’s dig in:
Taxis from Florence airport
The taxi ride into the Florence City Center is one of the best deals to be had in all of Italy. Usually plenty of cabs at the ready, relatively inexpensive and quick. It’s about a 20 minute ride to the downtown and shouldn’t cost much over €25 with luggage.
My experience with taxis in Florence has always been a good one, with no one attempting to “take you for a ride”. Courteous, they help out with bags and many know English as well. Airport fares are as follows:
- €22 - standard fare + €2.70 airport tax + €1 per suitcase
- €24 for Sundays and public holidays
- €25.30 night fare
All cabs are now equipped for credit card payments.
Taxis around town
You will find them stationed at major tourist points / piazzas and in 5 rows wide at the train station. You will be hard-pressed to flag down a free taxi yourself. Head to a piazza or call for a ride. Tel. (+39) 055-4242 or 055-4390
Tram from airport (or around town)
The Airport Tram is the best deal in town. It glides in cool comfort straight from the airport to the main train station, Santa Maria Novella. All yours for just 1.50 euro/person (children under 1 meter tall ride free as long as they don’t occupy a seat).
You can purchase tickets in hard-to-find machines or by simply texting FIRENZE to the number, 4880105. Your ticket lasts 90 minutes anywhere in Florence (although there’s talk of a surcharge starting for airport passengers).
About tipping in Italy: Most Italians round up the total or offer a euro or so more for good / extra service. You do not need to give an extra sum to the final bill as service and a "bread" or table charge amounting to about 10% is already added to the bill. Credit cards will not allow for tips, so if you want to leave a tip, try to have some cash in hand.
Buses in Florence
The hardest part of riding buses around Florence is figuring out, exactly, which stop / side of the road to stand on. I find myself on the wrong bus regularly. Use your public transport app, or the Florence Trip Planner (though I find Google more effective) at the new bus company app – Tabnet.
Again, tickets can be purchased at hard-to-find machines or by simply texting FIRENZE to the number, 4880105. Your ticket lasts 90 minutes anywhere in Florence.
Note: When first arriving to the Florence Santa Maria Novella train station, a terrific place to start is at the Tourist Information office right across the green lawn beyond the taxi stand. There, you can get maps, ask questions and find events and happenings around town.
For more assistance, we’d also like to recommend the app, Prontopia.com where locals can meet you / accompany you / help you out by bringing your luggage to the hotel while you stroll the streets at a leisurely pace / help you get tickets to museums and suggest favorite eateries / jazz clubs / or parks for kids to play in. I consider it an Über for 2-legged tourists!
Florence by car
Don´t do it! It is very much the worst way to see Florence. Much better to park the car in one of the big parking lots outside the city center which is completely ZTL (low traffic zone) and where you are not allowed in without a permit. If you think you might be longer than 6 hours (you will), buy a more economical day pass. Special passes are available for disabled parking. More information available at the Rilascio Contrassegni office. Free parking spaces are also available in all parking garages.Rilascio Contrassegni, Piazza Libertà 12, cubo 8. Open Mon-Fri, 08.30-13.00/14.00-16.30 Tel. 055 40401, Fax 055 4040221, email:
- S.M. Novella train station (most expensive and no day pass available €3/hr)
- Porta al Prato (first hour €1, then €2 per hour)
- Parterre near Piazza della Liberta (€2 /hr • €10 per day)
- Sant'Ambrogio, garage under Piazza Ghiberti (€2 /hr)
- Piazza Beccaria (€1.70 /hr)
- Oltrarno at the Porta Romana (€2.00/hr)
- Da Basso Fortezza (largest) (€1.60 /hr)
- Europa - Firenze Exit Sud (the cheapest, you pay €2 and can stay up to 11 hours)
- If you want to park your car unsupervised for free you can do so at Piazzale Michelangelo, Ponte a Greve and Firenze Certosa.
Public transportation from the parking lots into the city is available everywhere.
The center is closed to traffic during the day, including public transport. If you have booked accommodation in the center, you should ask the hotel to provide a temporary permit for loading and unloading. Ask about this when making your booking.
Florence's train stations
Florence is very well-connected by public transport. Almost every town in Tuscany has a connection to the city by bus or train. The train will get you to Florence easily, for example from Bologna, Rome and Milan with the high speed Freccia connections or TrenoItalo. Florence has no less than 4 major stations for a city of less than half a million inhabitants – that's quite a lot! The stations are:
- Santa Maria Novella (closest to the historic center)
- Campo di Marte
- Firenze Statuto
If you have a vacation home in the surroundings of florence for example mugello or chianti can use regional railroad lines trains run regularly and take your bike with as long valid ticket it costs extra to board at front p>Another option is the bus, the interregional lines pass through most hamlets and villages and are sometimes the fastest way to travel. Buy your tickets at bars, tobacco shops or kiosks with that display an AUTOLINEE TOSCANE sticker.
If you have a vacation home in the surroundings of florence for example mugello or chianti can use regional railroad lines trains run regularly and take your bike with as long valid ticket it costs extra to board at front
Hop off buses and museum entrance tickets are best bought in advance.
Contactless payment on the bus.
You can also use contactless payment on Florence buses and Volainbus and The Mall services (Outlet shopping). So make sure your card has a chip for Mastercard, Maestro, Visa and V-PAY circuits. More information.
More information about trains and buses :
Bikes and scooters
The city encourages cycling and there are a large number of places where bikes can be rented for around Euro 10 per day: Right at the train station, in Piazza Ghiberti, Piazza Cestello, Piazza Tasso and Piazza Via Veneto. Scooters are not very practical in the center, but if you want to visit the outskirts it´s a great choice. You will need a valid driver's license, credit card and passport. For more information about 'Le Mille e Una Bici' in Florence click here.
Museums and monuments in Florence
Of the long list of museums and monuments in Florence, don't miss the following but note that you now need to make an appointment in advance to see the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, the Galleria dell'Accademia and the gardens of Boboli.
- Galleria degli Uffizi , one of the most important in the world with Botticelli, Titian, Rembrandt, Caravaggio and others. Closed Mondays.
- Galleria dell'Accademia with Michelangelo's David, closed on Mondays.
- Palazzo Vecchio, now city hall of Florence
- Piazza della Signoria with (a copy of) Michelangelo's David and other statues in the elegant Loggia dei Lanzi of 1376.
- Ponte Vecchio
- Piazza della Repubblica, the center of Florence since Roman times.
- Piazzale Michelangelo high above the city across the Arno River with a beautiful view of the old town.
- The Duomo, whose gigantic dome dominates the view over Florence.
- The roof terrace of Hotel Cavour for a stunning view of the city and the Duomo
- Santa Croce, the intimate Franciscan church where many a famous Florentine is buried.
- Santa Maria Novella, an important Gothic monument with marble facade
- The chapel of the Medicis, part of San Lorenzo, the official church of the family.
Shopping in Florence
You can easily spend your entire vacation budget in an afternoon shopping in Florence. Perhaps better to leave your credit card at home and limit yourself to window shopping. The Via Tornabuoni, since the 14th century home of the Florentine rich and super rich, is now a succession of designers and luxury stores. More affordable are the boutiques and studios in the Via della Vigna Nuova and the Via del Parione. In the Via Maggio there are many antique dealers and for leather goods you should visit the San Lorenzo market.
On the Ponte Vecchio and in the area around you will find many jewelers who have been located there for centuries. Culinary specialties from Tuscany can be found in the covered market of San Lorenzo or the market in the square of Sant'Ambrogio. For wine, head to Antinori in the Via Tornabuoni and the truffle paradise of Pracacci in the same street. Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, ointments and tonics made by Dominican monks since 1221, the pharmacy is also a museum.Ginori 1735 Firenze, Via dei Rondinelli, 17, 50123 Firenze FILoretta Camponi, Via delle Belle Donne, 28/r, 50123 Firenze FI